As the body piercing industry continues to grow and progress forward we learn new and better forms of aftercare. The standard today is some form of a saline (salt water) soak. In years gone past accepted forms of aftercare included Liquid Dial hand soap , Bactine, and other rather harsh chemicals, including rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. These should be considered irritants and can actually prolong the healing of a piercing, or even prevent healing all together. Some of these products have also raised health concerns amongst the medical community. Triclosan in particular, which is the main biocide in Liquid Dial hand soap can also be found in countless other products, including toothpaste, trashbags, and even childrens toys. It has been suggested that Triclosan can combine with the chlorine in tap water and form chloroform gas. This has been reported to be a possible human carcinogen by the United States E.P.A. Triclosan has also been found to linger inside the body in human milk and has been proven to be an endocrine disruptor in the North American Bullfrog. That's some scary stuff right there.
Your piercing should be cleaned three to four times daily using a sterile bottled saline wound wash solution. I personally prefer H2Ocean because it contains a naturally found anti-microbial enzyme called N-acetylmuramide glycanhydrolase, more commonly referred to as lysozyme. Along with the benefits of a normal saline soak, which will flush away bacteria, soothe the surrounding tissues, and increase blood flow, lysozyme actually breaks down bacteria cells on a structural level. It does this by separating (a.k.a. lysing) the cell membrane, almost as if the bacterium were a water balloon and lysozyme is a push pin. Furthermore, lysozyme is an innate part of our immune system which means it will be readily absorbed into the surrounding tissue, almost creating what could be considered a little wall of sentry guards warding off any foreign invaders.
The best time to clean your piercing is immediately after bathing. This provides a great opportunity to make sure any soaps or shampoos that may have found their way into the piercing channel are completely washed away. Take a clean cotton swab and saturate it with saline wash. Gently cleanse around the piercing and jewelry. If there is any dried discharge (a.k.a. "crusties") attached to the healing tissue it's best to leave it be. Removing this firmly attached matter could result in damage to the underlying tissue. H2Ocean sprays in a mist so it is possible to also simply mist down the piercing area.
For any type of oral piercing, a non-alcohol mouthwash works best. My personal favorite is Bio-tene because it contains lysozyme along with a few other helpful enzymes, such as lactoperoxidase and glucose oxidase. Rinsing is required each time after eating, drinking, or smoking. Oral piercings will generally swell within the first few days to a week. To reduce the initial swelling keeping ice, ice chips, or ice water in your mouth works best. Slurpees, Icees, Slushies, and any other similar frozen beverages are not advisable. Using a straw creates a vacuum in the mouth and this reduced pressure can cause extra swelling to take place.
The worst time for swelling will be the first morning after receiving your piercing. Taking an anti-inflammatory agent the first night before bed will help to keep the swelling to a minimum. Anti-inflammatories such as Aleeve, Advil, or Motrin are best. Basically either an ibuprofen or a naproxen will do the job. Tylenol and aspirin may dull some pain but they won't reduce the swelling. As a precautionary measure, always make sure you are not allergic to any over-the-counter medications and always follow their printed directions. Any reactions to medication or signs of strange symptoms should be reported to your doctor right away.
Some tenderness, slight redness, and minor swelling is commonly associated with most fresh piercings. Discharge is also quite commonplace for a healing piercing. This is a collection of anti-bodies that need to be drained from the piercing location. If not cleaned away soon after appearing, the discharge will dry and form "crusties". None of these symptoms should cause alarm as nearly all piercings will experience these typical signs. If at anytime a piercing does not seem to be healing properly please don't hesitate to contact a professional. It's always better to address a small complication before it could possibly escalate into something much greater.